roasted pumpkin pieces in a pan


Pumpkin whiskey gelato – this is the frozen equivalent of a pumpkin pie.  Spicy and sweet with a good kick of whiskey to finish.   It’s like having fall in the freezer all year.  Plus it’s easier than pie to make – no fussy crust disasters.

pumpkin half being seeded


Canned vs roasted pumpkin: there is no clear winner. Both are solid choices.  I find the flavor of homemade puree tends to be more ‘pumpkiny’ but the tradeoff is a slightly grainy texture.  On the other hand, a good canned pumpkin offers up a super smooth texture that is perfect for gelato but it doesn’t have that deeply roasted flavor.  Think of pumpkin pie, which kind do you prefer – an almost savory squash-like artisan pie? Or the nostalgia of a big orangey-brown Thanksgiving pie?

When using canned pumpkin be sure to pick one that is 100% pumpkin NOT pumpkin pie filling full of added ingredients. The key is to control the amount of sugar very precisely.  Sugar determines the freezing point of gelato.  Less sugar means a harder less scoopable gelato.  By using 100% pure pumpkin puree we can control the exact amount of sugar (and other ingredients) which in turn will give us the exact taste and texture we want.

Making pumpkin puree from scratch is simple (see recipe notes).  Take a sugar pumpkin (also called ‘pie’ pumpkin), cut it up, seed it, roast it and scrape the flesh off the skin.  Pulverize the flesh in a food processor until really really smooth.   Push it through a strainer to eliminate any hidden lumps.

a pile of fresh pumpkins


Mix it.  Heat it.  Make sure it doesn’t boil.  On my stove this process takes exactly 10 minutes every time.  Any longer and the heat is too low.  If it starts to thicken significantly in the first 5 minutes the heat is probably too high.   Once it’s off the heat incorporate the whiskey and puree, making sure that there are no lumps or streaks.

Use a whiskey you like, that you would drink but one that requires a second mortgage.   Laphroaig 15 year is my favorite, the smokiness is perfect with pumpkin.  Bourbon would also be a great pairing.


After sitting in the fridge overnight, give the gelato a quick stir before processing in the ice cream maker.    When it reaches the consistency of soft serve put it in a container and throw it in the fridge for a few hours until firm.  Best served with toasted pecans and a cozy sweater.

woman in a cozy sweater eating a scoop of pumpkin whiskey gelato


Pumpkin whiskey gelato is like a  frozen pumpkin pie without the crust.  A big hit of whiskey or bourbon makes it the perfect adult dessert. Canned or homemade pumpkin puree will work beautifully.  The canned will  create a traditional pumpkin pie flavor and the roasted puree a more savory gelato



  • 180g    pumpkin puree*
  •   60g    brown sugar
  •     1 tsp cinnamon
  •   1/2tsp allspice
  •   1/2tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  •   1/2tsp ground cloves


  • 178g   sugar
  •   20g   non-fat milk powder
  •     5g   tapioca starch
  • 632g   whole milk
  •   52g   heavy cream
  •   80g   egg yolks (approx 4)
  •   34g   light corn syrup
  • 1 tbsp  whiskey



Drain liquid from the puree then push through a strainer to remove any lumps and stringy bits. Place puree in a small saucepan with the brown sugar and spices.  Cook over medium-low heat until the puree simmers and the sugar dissolves completely.  Set aside.


Make an ice bath – place a few ice cubes and a few cups of water in a large bowl.  Set aside. Have a clean bowl or container and a fine mesh strainer standing by.


Mix sugar, non-fat milk powder, and tapioca starch. In a separate bowl combine milk and cream.  Whisk in the dry ingredients.  Add corn syrup and egg yolks, continue whisking until there are no lumps.


Place the mixture in a medium saucepan over medium heat for a few minutes until the mixture is warm* then increase to medium-high. Cook for 8-10 minutes.  Do not let it come to a boil.  Keep stirring the mixture while it cooks.  In the last few minutes stir without stopping as the mixture begins to thicken.

Once it’s thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, pour it through a fine-mesh strainer into the bowl that is standing by.   Using an immersion blender (or regular blender) thoroughly incorporate the pumpkin puree and whiskey.

Place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the gelato to prevent a skin from forming. Put the bowl of hot gelato into the ice bath.


After the gelato has cooled, remove from the ice bath and refrigerate for 4-12 hours.


Give the gelato a quick stir with an immersion blender or whisk then process in an ice-cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  The gelato is finished when it is the consistency of soft-serve ice cream (about 20-30 minutes) Scoop into a container, place a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper on the surface and freeze until firm (4 hours minimum)


  • If you are using canned puree make sure it is 100% pumpkin with nothing added. To make your own:  Split a sugar pumpkin into quarters and scrape out the seeds.  Coat very lightly with canola oil and roast at 350 for about 45 minutes until soft.   Scrape the flesh off the peel and pulverize in a food processor. For a more pumpkin orange color substitute an equal amount of white sugar for the brown.
  • Start the gelato base on low heat so the eggs don’t cook too fast.  Once everybody is warm (it doesn’t take long) then it’s ok to increase the heat.  


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